The President of the Association of Heads of Security of Tertiary Institutions (AHSOTI), Col. Umaru Tilde (rtd), has appealed to the Federal Government and the National Assembly to promulgate law that would allow its members to carry arms in the nation’s tertiary institutions as a counter measure against terrorism and other security threats in the institutions of higher learning.

Col. Tilde, who made the call last Wednesday (December 3, 2014) while speaking with Unilorin Bulletin on the sideline of a three-day Security Conference and Workshop organised by the Association at the University of Ilorin, said that constitutionally, members of the Association are not allowed to handle weapons but only liaise with State Security Service (SSS) and the Police should they encounter any security challenge on their campuses.

He however argued that it had become imperative for the tertiary institutions’ CSOs to be allowed to carry light weapons, as some tertiary institutions in the country have become victims and targets of insurgency.

Col. Tilde noted that some tertiary institutions in the country had recorded many casualties as a result of Boko Haram attacks, lamenting that the campus security operatives had been unable to effectively ward off attacks as they are not currently allowed to carry arms in the institutions.

The AHSOTI President pointed out that heads of security in tertiary institutions are experienced ex-servicemen with competences and requisite expertise in handling weapons.

He said, “Majority of the heads of security of tertiary institutions are ex-servicemen from the military and para-military forces, who are well trained in weapon handling. They have some larger percentage of their staff, who equally have the training of handling weapons.

“Now, somebody has handled weapons for over 30 years before retiring and then you start doubting him to hold the weapon again. The earlier they have a rethink, the better so that security officials in tertiary institutions can equally be screened. Those proven to be well trained and they have not lost their values can still hold weapons.”

Speaking on the theme, Security Consciousness in Nigerian Institutions, Col. Tilde, who emphasised on civilian facility in Nigerian schools, disclosed that the conference was in line with the Safe School Initiative of the Federal Government, “which is aimed at achieving “the four ‘Ds’ of target hardening: to Detect, Delay, Deter, and Defeat the threat posed by sudden attraction of terrorist, kidnappers and other agents of death to “Soft Targets” like institution of learning in the Nigeria”.

Earlier, while declaring the conference open, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. AbdulGaniyu Ambali, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research, Technology and Innovation), Prof. Gabriel Olatunji, appreciated the efforts of Security Officers in the University of Ilorin, noting that they are the first people mostly attacked and at risk.

Prof. Ambali said, “Security is top of the agenda in any part of the world, and in the University of Ilorin. Hence, it is my belief that University of Ilorin and other universities in Nigeria are trying their best on security issues, by providing all they need so that they can perform their work effectively”.

The Vice-Chancellor, who described the workshop as an avenue to broaden the knowledge of security officers on security issues, assured that the University of Ilorin management would always make sure that all security issues attract immediate attention.

In his remarks, the National Coordinator of AHSOTI, Mr. Imarah Okpako, urged all tertiary institutions to “launch with funfair, Campus Emergency Telephone numbers and Email addresses which must be at the finger tips of all members of the institutions’ communities”.

Mr. Okpako called for regular Security Awareness Programme for all members of the institutions’ communities, adding that security of lives and corporate assets should not be sacrificed on the altar of lack of fund.

The Chief Security Officer of the University of Ilorin, Mallam A. Tajjani, who thanked the University authority for their support in hosting of the conference, said that the conference has broadened their knowledge and added value to their security skills in ensuring non-violent and secured campuses.

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